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December 11, 2009 News
EKN Trackside: Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals - Day Five

eKartingNews.ca's coverage of the 2009 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is presented by
Championship Karting International and the 2010 WSK North American Series Florida Cup


Today the three classes will run their third and final heat race to set the grid for the prefinal. The top 28 drivers would transfer straight to the Saturday prefinal and a shot at a Grand Finals title. The next 34 go to the second chance race with the remaining ten done for the week. The top six from the Second Chance race will transfer to the back of the prefinal grid. All karts get new tires for the prefinal race so the racing action will be extremely close. Tire wear has not been a major factor talking to the drivers. The stewards worked hard yesterday to clamp down on rough driving. There are four camera stations around the track sending a feed to race control so they can evaluate any incidents. This morning karts showing excessive tires marks on the nose cone or side pods were asked to remove the marks or add on new decals. Stewards are photographing karts at the scales that show big rubber marks as evidence of contact. These are handed to stewards for evaluation and possible fine or penalty.

Junior Rotax
All the Juniors needed to score well today to ensure a good spot in the prefinal or at least a good spot in the second chance grid. All the Juniors are making loads of changes with some changing seat position several times. Both Nick Neri and Steven Szigeti ran two solid heats yesterday, helping them to move forward should things not go to plan in heat three. Most expected the action to heat up today and it certainly did.

Steven Szigeti (Photo: Ken Johnson, BRP-Powertrain - soa-design.com)
Steven Szigeti
(Photo: Ken Johnson, BRP-Powertrain - soa-design.com)

Heat 13 A vs. D
The first race of the day to follow the morning warm up was the juniors. Garett Grist would start in row 11 with Alec Udell behind in row 12. Jake French sat on outside of row 13 followed by Ethan Ringel inside row 15 and Bryce Choquer inside row 16. Off the start a huge wreck would collect Grist, who stalled the engine and had to re-fire as karts went past. French and Choquer made it through cleanly, but Udell got slowed in the mess. Grist would re-fire and grab some spots in the back section and then get caught in another crash in turn four when a kart pulled back on track in front of him. This moved him to last place in the track order. Up front French ran well with Ringel also gaining spots by midway. At the line it was Kay Van Kemenade of the Netherlands with the win. French would cross in 16th, Ringel in 20th and Choquer moving up to take 27th. Udell would recover to grab 28th while Grist crossed the line in 33rd place.

Heat 14 B vs. C
Nick Neri would start outside row four with Steven Szigeti outside row nine. Both drivers were confident a good result would give a nice place in the prefinal. Phil Orcic would start inside row 11 and needed a good run to boost his chances of avoiding the LCQ. Off the start Neri got hammered in corner one and would go off track as part of a huge pile up of karts spinning in the sand. Szigeti got caught up as well and needed to recover quickly. Orcic made it through in good shape and looked to make the most of a good start. The leaders stretched out the field quickly as Orcic battled for a top ten. Szigeti battled to gain spots as the field spread out, making it tough to gain spots. Neri would march forward as he worked traffic and attrition kicked in. At the line the win went to Edward Brand of the UK with his third straight heat win. Orcic took the 11th spot with Szigeti to 20th and Neri recovered to get 26th spot.

Joey Wimsett (Photo: Ken Johnson, BRP-Powertrain - soa-design.com)
Joey Wimsett
(Photo: Ken Johnson, BRP-Powertrain - soa-design.com)

Senior Rotax
The Senior crowd have been quick and clean all week. The level of competition is truly amazing and it is great to see drivers position themselves for passes well in advance and strike so quickly. There is a level of respect for both the passing and defending as each lap is an opportunity to scope the competition. Talking to teams and drivers tire wear was not a factor as some had suspected.

Heat 15 A vs. D
Joey Wimsett started the race outside row three as he looked to keep his streak alive. The young driver is very pumped about his results so far and looked to score another great finish to cement his place at the front of the prefinal grid. Hugo Ouellette would start behind him in row four. Victor Pedrosa started from outside row seven with Stepanova Nekeel behind in row eight. Nekeel has struggled with pace and has continued to make changes to get the balance he needs in the chassis. Phillip Arscott will go from inside row 11 and looked to grab a solid finish.

Off the green the field piled hard into corner one and the big wreck came in the back of the pack sending several karts flying. Ouellette got collected and was forced to retire from the race after one lap. Nekeel also got collected but kept going in last place, however Arscott was not so lucky and was done in less than 300 feet from the start line. The good news was that Wimsett made a great start to hold P4 on lap one with Pedrosa in the eighth spot. Wimsett would go to P3 in lap two and then P2 the next lap. Pedrosa joined a great battle for fourth spot on lap four and then moved up to lead that group two laps later. At the stripe it was Luke Varley of the UK with the win. Wimsett would cross in second giving him a great shot at the front of the prefinal grid. Pedrosa, finding new speed in the last couple of heats, stormed forward nicely to take the fourth spot. Nekeel would cross in 25th with Ouellette classified in 32nd and Arscott in 34th.

Heat 16 B vs. C
This heat was an all-Canadian one. Marco DiLeo would go from outside row four with a new engine while Chris Glover started from outside row 15 also with a new Rotax Max engine. Without being totally predictable there was huge pile up in corner one with 14 karts getting turned around or sideways or into the barriers. DiLeo made it through but was forced way back into 14th place. He worked heavy traffic for most of the race looking inside at every chance to grab a spot. Glover also made it through and picked up a couple of spots along the way to grab 21st spot. DiLeo was able to secure a couple of spots as he battled Claudio Pagliarani from Italy in the middle stages of the 12-lap race. Glover ran well and kept clean as several spins occurred in front of him. There was a nice lead change in the closing laps as Mike Joossens tracked down Mario Vendla and took the win with Vendla in close pursuit. DiLeo would cross in 16th spot with Glover taking in a 26th place finish.

Cody Hodgson (Photo: Ken Johnson, BRP-Powertrain - soa-design.com)
Cody Hodgson
(Photo: Ken Johnson, BRP-Powertrain - soa-design.com)

The DD2 group has seen some of the most aggressive racing this week. Drivers are using all available bodywork to muscle themselves into the next position, creating several incidents in many parts of the track. Stewards have warned the field that they are watching and using all available information should penalties be required. The new paddle shift system has held up well in race conditions. Early in the week several drivers had shifting axles and CRG allowed drivers to dimple the axles so the set screws would bed in better.

Heat 17 A vs. D
Troy Castaneda goes green from outside row two while Cody Hodgson started from row five inside. Scott Campbell needed a good day from his inside row seven spot. Thiago Parazinho will launch from inside row 15. The field was no start the first time by and Cody Hodgson got pushed off and had to rejoin the field as a couple of other karts also scrambled to rejoin the formation. The second attempt was a no go so the field was stopped on the front straight for a chat with the Race Director. On the next attempt there was a big crash at the start line taking out four karts and then 300 feet late another crash in turn one with three karts going out. Castaneda was pushed way back to 23rd while Hodgson to launched into P4, with Parazinho in 18th and Campbell up to seventh on lap one. Campbell would be in a tight battle all race long slipping back to 12th in the final order. At the line it was Ralph Odendaal taking win number three with Hodgson in fourth, Campbell holding onto 12th, Castaneda in 19th and Parazinho in 20th.

Heat 18 B vs. C
Darren White would set inside row three for the start with country man Daniel Morad outside row five. Two Canadians would make up the 11 row with Kyle Stevens inside and Frank Launi outside. Mike Daniels was set to start from the 14th row. Just like the heat race before the field missed the first two attempts and the race director stopped them on the front row. The problem seemed to be the field not accelerating with the front row, trying to get them bounced for a jump start. The start was good with four karts tangling in the back including Mike Daniels who would see his day ended. White would go to P4 with Morad battling for eighth spot, Launi into the 15th spot and Stevens trying to recover from some corner one contact. At the line it was Thomas Thum of Germany with the win and White grabbing a nice fourth place to cap off his nice heat race run. Morad would charge forward to grab the fifth spot to finish off a brilliant run through traffic. Launi would secure a nice 13th place finish to bring a positive note to his first Grand Finals while Stevens crossed the line in 18th.

Team Canada's DD2 pilots talk strategy prior to the days action (Photo: Alec Cush)
Team Canada's DD2 pilots talk strategy prior to the days action
(Photo: Alec Cush)

Junior Rotax Second Chance Qualifier
Alec Udell would go from inside row three, Orcic inside row eight, French outside row nine, Grist inside row 11, Ringle outside row 13 and Choquer inside row 17. The off pole driver lost a front wheel on the formation lap. Udell had a good start to grab fourth spot heading out of turn one. Grist had an amazing start to get into the eighth spot and then took two more into turn two. Orcic got held up and got rolling in eighth spot. Ringel and Choquer made it through with Choquer grabbing lots of spots. Grist charged forward with the breakaway lead pack as Orcic behind him in fifth spot. Orcic would begin to battle with the kart in sixth and Grist was able to gap. Udell ran third while Grist lost touch with the lead group of five and ran in sixth but gapped the group behind battling to catch him. Choquer continued to move forward. With three to go Grist began to lose pace and the driver in seventh was able to pass him on the last corner to take the final transfer spot. Grist was later DQd at scales for being 0.4 kilos light.

Senior Rotax Second Chance Qualifier
Marco DiLeo would sit outside row four with Ouellette inside row nine and Arscott inside row 11. Glover would make the last spot for the LCQ outside row 17.

Off the start the pole sitter got spun out. Arscott got a great start and moved into the fifth spot out of one. DiLeo stayed clean to get into the fourth spot. The off pole sitter got the black flag handing third to DiLeo. DiLeo was under attack as Arscott and one other went by demoting DiLeo to sixth spot. Arscott would go to P2 on lap eight while DiLeo held off a hard charging kart to keep the final transfer spot. Glover would not get enough to transfer and Ouellette would cross in last place.

DD2 Second Chance Qualifier
We had one Canadian and two Americans in the LCQ. Thiago Parazinho would start outside row eight with Frank Launi outside row nine. Like a photocopy of most races the field headed into one and the Talledaga style big one happened this time collecting Launi and pushing him back in the field. Parazinho got through clean and battled in the mid pack to take home a solid 12th, not enough to move on. Launi would battle and also come up short in the end unable to transfer to the prefinal.

Tomorrow comes the prefinal and the final. Three drivers were able to use the LCQ to transfer. Alec Udell in Junior and Phillip Arscott and Marco DiLeo in Senior will all have a tough job ahead of them. Making it through directly to the prefinal in Junior are Steven Szigeti who will start outside row nine and Nick Neri inside row 12. In Senior it is Joey Wimsett who will get the third starting spot and Victor Pedrosa in the tenth spot. In DD2 we will see Hodgson in ninth, White in tenth, Morad in 13th, Castaneda in 16th, Campbell in 16th and Stevens in 28th.

eKartingNews.ca will have forum updates in the Official Discussion Thread as each session ends to highlight the actual top-10 plus where each Team USA and Team Canada driver ends up. For complete coverage, including the United States and Canadian team previews and daily report, click over to the EKN.ca Event Page. To follow updates throughout the week, continue to watch the Official Discussion Thread on EKN.ca or the Discussion Thread on EKN.com. Also, watch the Driver Blog from DD2 driver Troy Castenada. For the live timing and almost live video provided by the RMCGF, click here http://live.kart-data.com/LT09/RGF/

For more information on Championship Karting International and the 2010 WSK North American Series Florida Cup go to http://www.championshipkartracing.com for all the schedules and details.
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